Students' conflicting attitudes towards games as a vehicle for learning mathematics: A methodological dilemma

. Mathematics education research journal 19 (1): 29-44 (2007)


Mathematics games are widely employed in school classrooms for such reasons as a reward for early finishers or to enhance students’ attitude towards mathematics. During a four week period, a total of 222 Grade 5 and 6 (9 to 12 years old) children from Melbourne, Australia, were taught multiplication and division of decimal numbers using calculator games or rich mathematical activities. Likert scale surveys of the children’s attitudes towards games as a vehicle for learning mathematics revealed unexpectedly high proportions of negative attitudes at the conclusion of the research. In contrast, student interview data revealed positive associations between games and mathematical learning. This paper reports on the methodological dilemma of resultant conflicting attitudinal data related to game-playing. Concerns arising from the divergence in the results are raised in this paper. Implications based on the experience of this study may inform educational researchers about future methodological choices involving attitudinal research.

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